Countries that were party to an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) may now be relieved of the obligation to impose third-party liability on internet service providers, according to leaked notes.
Knowledge Ecology International claimed to have obtained a text copy of the last round of talks in Washington DC.
Although still studying the 29-page document, Lowndes Jordan intellectual property lawyer Rick Shera said that chapter four of the draft treaty, Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Environment had changed "considerably".
In particular, he said in a blog post, the leaked text appeared to remove the requirement for countries to impose third-party liability on ISPs and other service providers.
A "three strikes" rule had reportedly been on the agenda at previous ACTA discussions.
Such a rule would require ISPs to disconnect users suspected of file-sharing on more than two occasions and free up a rights holder - such as the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), for example - from having to prove that an ISP like iiNet had 'authorised' a subscriber's downloads to force the ISP to take active steps to stop the problem.
"As a result [of the removal of liability], we are left with a relatively benign set of provisions (although there is obviously still negotiation going on around access to subscriber information, which needs to be watched)," Shera said.
An ACTA treaty without the third-party liability provisions also placed further legal importance on the outcome of the ongoing battle between iiNet and AFACT, he said.
The latest text leak came after the United States opposed an official release of the meeting text.
Negotiations had been undermined by several leaks this year.
A first public draft was released after the 8th round of negotiations that took place in Wellington, New Zealand in April this year.
A rumoured "final round of negotiations" would take place in Japan this month.
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